We finally have some good news regarding our legal case! Last week, Judge Pulver made a ruling in our favor. The case itself is not over, but we did achieve what we feel is an important victory. The town’s attorneys have focused their legal strategy on trying to get our case dismissed due to some errors we made in service. Our original attorney had told us to only serve the Assessor’s office, which we did. They countered that we needed to serve the county and the school board as well, and asked that our case be dismissed on that basis, as well as the fact that we basically started this case pro se, or basically we had to go it alone because our prior attorney took herself off the case. Although we were upset at the time, she probably did us a favor in retrospect since she claimed she was not competent in this area of New York law.
The decision was thus: not only is Pulver refusing to drop the case, he is also allowing us to amend our filing to include the county and school district, as our attorney requested. This is just in the nick of time, because we have already started to get threatening letters from the county about seizing our property by the end of the year if we are not paid up by then! Although it’s not over until it’s over, we are pretty optimistic about how things will turn out. Thus far, they have shown that they really have nothing against us other than the legal equivalent of clerical errors (which is how the judge put it). If they try to defend themselves with the real reasons for this, they will open themselves up to pretty hefty damages from a civil rights or Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act case which we are completely prepared to file and pursue if they don’t just concede and give us our property tax exemption back. Given that both the Town of Catskill and Greene County are going through a fiscal crisis of their own, it would be an incredibly foolish gamble for them to make.
As for other news around the Maetreum, we held Season of the Tree on the last weekend in March. We had hoped that by holding it the weekend following Ostara/Spring Solstice that we would have had more pagans coming. I think it did help more pagans show up, but we had a low turnout – only 7 people came. Ironically enough, the next weekend, 11 people came, including 5 people strangers who just turned up at random. Go figure. Nonetheless, it was a great Season of the Tree. Some of our new friends participated and undertook the Mysteries.
We have finished the painting work on the bulk of the 2nd floor hallway. Now the only common areas that are left still paneled are the bathrooms and the immediate hallway surrounding them, the stairs and main entranceway. We have found some nice, commercial tiles for the hallway as well, having also gotten rid of the carpet – finally! We have also found just the perfect things to re-do the ceiling. Armstrong makes these wonderful acoustic tiles just like the old ones we have – only they have been pressed into patterns matching old, tin-tile ceilings! Since we already have the tracks laid, they’ll be a snap to install; it’s just a matter of getting the money for the things.